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70A YorkTown Road, Sandhurst, Berkshire, GU47 9BT

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30th July 2015

A Broken Tooth

It’s easy to think that your teeth are impervious to harm, after all they are made from the hardest bone in the body, perfect for crunching and chewing all kinds of hard food, but they’re more delicate than you would think. Knocking or bruising your teeth is easier than you might imagine, and not always avoidable, so it’s helpful to know a bit about what you can do if you chip or break one of your teeth.

Accidents happen to everyone now and again, and most injuries to the mouth are caused by falls or sudden impacts, but you might find simply biting down on a hard piece of food can crack your teeth. Equally, your teeth are at risk from breaking apart thanks to lax hygiene, so brushing and flossing twice daily could save you some pain and time in the future.

What to do if a tooth chips or breaks?

Not all broken teeth will be very painful, if it’s a superficial crack or fracture then you probably won’t feel too much discomfort. A tooth restoration is one way your dentist can replace or restore missing teeth or missing parts of the tooth structure. The damaged or missing tooth parts are replaced with artificial materials which can either be a white composite material, glass, metal or porcelain. This is also known as a dental filling.

With a tooth that is more severely damaged (i.e. more than half the tooth is missing), then a more robust approach is required. Dental crowns are tooth shaped caps that is placed over the tooth to restore its shape size colour. Metal and porcelain crowns are ideal as they provide high strength to repair you broken tooth and high aesthetics so they look great.

What if my tooth falls out or is completely split?

An avulsed tooth (one that is knocked out completely) will not be something you can ignore. Your first course of action is to contact a dental professional, don’t let the situation continue without doing this, there’s nothing you can do to fix the tooth yourself, so get to an emergency dentist as soon as you can. Carefully clean the tooth in warm water, holding it by the crown and rinsing the root, without scrubbing. It can sometimes help if you place the tooth back in its socket gently, to encourage it to reattach and to keep the root functioning, but this doesn’t always work and might be painful if it’s a particularly severe injury. If there is heavy bleeding, press some gauze onto the area and bite down carefully to stem the flow.

If you end up with a split tooth as a result of an accident, you will notice that it has fractured vertically but won’t necessarily be out of the socket. This can affect both molars and incisors, but is more common in molars because they generally have the most pressure put on them when biting. The positive thing about this is that molars have more roots than the front teeth; this gives the dentist a better chance of saving the tooth and avoiding an extraction. However, if there is too much damage to the whole molar, then it will probably have to be removed.

What if I have a gap that needs filling?

The best like-for-like replacement of a tooth is a dental implant; an artificial tooth root made from titanium. It is inserted into the jaw to allow osseointegration (union of bone and implant). After this, the implant or implants can be used to support, single or multiple teeth or dentures.

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